By David Hennessy
Tax City, the short film written and produced by Andy Nolan of The BibleCode Sundays and starring former World Champion boxer Steve Collins, will premiere in London next month. Directed by award-winning Tom Begley and also featuring Jon Campling (Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2) and former bank robber Noel ‘Razor’ Smith, The Irish World was invited on set to watch the filming of the eagerly awaited short film last year.
The story follows Johnny Costa (Campling) who is a rock star until he is stabbed in the throat during a brutal mugging, an injury that effectively ends his career. Descending into drugs and misery, Costa finds himself on the street and once again encounters his attacker played by Steve Collins.
Collins’ character is leader of the notorious Taxing Squad, vicious thugs who prey on the homeless. The film also stars Mark Hutchinson of RTE’s Drowning Rats and KB Forbes of Game of Thrones.
The writer Andy Nolan explains that such gangs terrorised the homeless people of 1990s London, the period in which Tax City is set: “These taxing squads who were predominantly Irish homeless people or people of Irish descent would extort a street tax off their fellow homeless people.
“A couple of them, maybe more, actually went back to Ireland with quite a few quid in their pocket. They were quite vicious characters.
“I actually first stumbled across them in an article in The Big Issue. It was a homeless person’s account of living on the streets in London and they mentioned these taxing squad gangs and described them as Irish-dominated gangs and I thought: ‘That’s an untold story there. That’s an interesting concept I would like to write about’.”
It seemed natural for the accordion player to make his main character also a musician and Andy has had the support of his bandmates who feature both in the film and on the soundtrack: “They’ve been very supportive, they’ve helped me out in so many ways. We’ve done fund raisers for my future movie Clan London which is going to be filmed later this year and the guys have played at fund raising events for that to get money in and finance the whole production.”
Clan London is a feature film about three London-Irish brothers who reluctantly take up their father’s bank robber mantle and end up as big players in the city’s underworld.
“We will be shooting that in late 2013. That’s been a labour of love too. Steve Collins and Noel Razor Smith are going to be involved in that too. The main casting will be in the coming months.”
While neither are trained actors, Andy has been delighted with the performances of Collins and Smith: “Tom Begley has taken Steve Collins aside especially and basically been doing one-on-one coaching with him and what he has managed to get out of Steve has been fantastic. Tom Begley’s management and handling of Steve has been amazing and Razor is starting to get into the acting scene now and he’s really enjoying it and Tom has been helping him too. Steve has described acting as being on a par with getting into a boxing ring: You become a different person in the boxing ring. It just seems something that has come really natural to both of them and it’s looking really good on screen.”
Director Tom Begley echoes the sentiments: “Steve is very determined and very focused and he is on the set like he was in the boxing ring: If he puts his mind to something, he’ll do it. He’s very easy to direct, he took direction very well and he was always polite, always there on time, never ever complained which a lot of actors have a tendency to do. He just took everything in his stride. We did some rehearsals beforehand and he really gave it his everything, he gave it his all and I was very happy with him. I hope to do some stuff with him again. I had done quite a number of shorts with him before that so I’ve seen him developing over the last year.
“Razor was great, a gentleman to work with. I think he enjoyed it and I enjoyed working with him. All the guys got on well on set. Steve and Razor and everyone, there was a good dynamic with the guys so that made it even easier.”
Beyond the April premiere, is it Tom’s intention to see Tax City screened at festivals this summer? “Absolutely, that’s what me and Andy want. We’re going to handpick some of the festivals, we’ll be looking at The Berlin Film Festival, Milan, a couple in America and obviously Ireland as well. We will be looking to push it out there now and have it seen at the various festivals.”
The event in two weeks will also see the first screening of BibleCode Sundays’ new video Count Your Blessings, also directed by Tom Begley and featuring a Hollywood A-lister and international footballer in addition to Collins and Smith. There will also be a memorabilia auction, presided over by Steve Collins, with all proceeds going to a homeless charity chosen by the film’s makers.
“It’s been an amazing journey really,” reflects the film’s writer who has been working on the film’s production for a year and its writing before that. “It’s been hard along the way but it’s been very worthwhile. There’s loads of people I want to thank, Tom Begley in particular and all the cast and crew who pitched in and made it a huge success. It really is down to them. It starts off with an idea and a script but that’s just the start of the journey.”
Tax City premieres at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly on April 5. To purchase tickets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see the film’s trailer, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3he4aBfCU4&sns=em.